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Words can help or words can hurt. Let's take a look at both of these truths.

Submitted: September 25, 2014

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Submitted: September 25, 2014



by Rev. Jeff Hagan, DCE, DMin, (ThD)



The passage I want to look at deals with one of the main struggles we have as believers. It's an easy habit to slip into and we are all guilty of it. What is this I'm speaking of? It's our tongues, the language we use. This problem goes much further than simply using a cuss word or blurting out something inappropriate when you hit your thumb with a hammer. I have often used off color remarks to emphasize a point or an issue, but again, I'm referring to something that goes much deeper.


Gossip, judging, being critical, and pessimism can all cause deep harm when directed toward another person. Not only that, but they way in which we express ourselves in debate, discussion, and disagreement also reveals a lot about our character. The solution to this problem? Learning to tame our tongue before it causes “tongue trouble” for us. Something to keep in mind, “The tongue is in a wet place, don't let it slip.”



“For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water” (James 3:7-12, ESV).


ONE – The tongue has an uncontrollable character to it (verses 7 – 8). The tongue can make a mockery of our claim to wisdom and self-control.


TWO – The tongue has a revealing nature to it (verses 9-10). Whether building others up or bringing others down, the tongue exposes what is in our heart.


THREE – The tongue does have a spiritual cure. Here's what Scripture instructs:


-Confess the problem: James 1:26, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless” (ESV). Isaiah 6:5, “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (ESV)!


-Keep the focus on your heart: Matthew 12:34, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (ESV). 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (ESV). (See also Psalm 51:10)


-As always, ask for God's help: Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips" (ESV)!


-Don't talk so much: James 1:19, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (ESV). Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (ESV). (See also Proverbs 29:20)


-Practice being positive in your speech: Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (ESV). Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (ESV).



It has been reported that a young lady once came up to John Wesley and said, “I think I know what my talent is. It's to speak my mind.” Wesley replied, “I don't think God would mind if you bury that talent.”

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